Colin Crosby, 16, interviewed his pug, Dash, for a school blog. “It was a pretty funny experience,” the Poland Regional High School sophomore said. He and other students have been sharing thoughts and staying connected by blogging on the online school newspaper. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

POLAND — Some message hope, others try humor.

Students at Poland Regional High School are using the school’s online newspaper to emote about the pandemic and to record history.

Or to interview their pets.

Junior Amy Fryda chose initially to write poems to express her feelings of hopelessness.

“is it wednesday
      what is 
      What is
time //
is of the essence 
// is it?
i’m not tired
of this mess
    i call quarantine
or is it self-inflicted
what //
is the point”

She said this week she was feeling depressed when she posted the poem in mid-March to the blog titled “The World Stopped When I Was in High School.”


Schools have been closed since March 16 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“The first poem started as an expression of deeper meaning during this quarantine,” Fryda said Wednesday. “I was definitely feeling down and depressed, but I knew I wasn’t alone.”

That realization changed her perspective.

“It definitely made me look at my surroundings and reevaluate my situation,” she said. “Now I’m trying to take a positive look on everything.”

For example, she said, the effect of staying home has been good for climate change.

This was noted in a blog entry by sophomore Emma Bunyea, who listed eight worldwide improvements to the environment since the COVID-19 lockdowns, including a 25% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in China.


Bunyea said in a phone interview that she tries hard to be positive.

“I knew from the beginning I would struggle, and I made a real effort to focus on the positive,” she said. “If someone like me is struggling in finding positive things, then it’s important to talk about, because a lot of other people are struggling, too.”

Finding the positive is more difficult as the lockdown continues, she said, but that means it’s more important to try.

She wrote in the blog that when school and band and softball and leaving the house were all canceled, she remembered what her band teacher had said.

“We are in a dark time, try to focus on positives.”

As the lockdown continues, Bunyea stays busy with schoolwork, including Advance Placement classes. She spends time with her family and creates artwork, she said.


Blogger Prim Sribanchuen, a junior, also is staying busy with AP classes. She says math and science classes are more difficult in remote instruction.

“They depend on in-person education and we can’t do that,” she said.

She said blogging helps her deal with loneliness.

“It lets me let out my feelings and share with people and let them know we’re not alone,” she said. “It’s really nice to see how everyone is doing. It cheers me up.”

Cheering people up was blogger Colin Crosby’s goal when he posted an interview with his dog.

The dog didn’t have much to say.


“I wanted to lighten the mood,” said Crosby, a sophomore. “I thought people were taking it too seriously, like it was something they had to do and they had to do a great job.”

He said he might bring the dog back for interview part two.

Meanwhile, he’s busy with studies, which he says are “more work but not harder.”

He is “definitely” bored a lot of the time,” he said. “It’s just like summer vacation, except I’m learning and I don’t really go anywhere.”

The bloggers are looking forward to better times, but Fryda believes the pandemic will affect people for generations.

Social studies teacher Laurie Sevigny believes this generation of high school students will be the most affected.


“This is history they’re living through here,” said Sevigny, the only teacher to contribute to the blog.

“I have the Vietnam War, walking on the moon, the assassination of John F. Kennedy,” she said. “This is a marker for them.”

She had asked her ninth-grade class to blog about the pandemic as a way to record history in first-person voices and to write something longer than a social media blurb.

Fellow social studies teacher Ken Chutchian, adviser to the school newspaper staff, picked up the ball and created the blog for all students who wanted to participate.

He saw it as a way to engage students, give them a public outlet to express what they’re going through and establish a document of the school’s history.

He was pleased with the results, he said.


“A couple (of entries) were delightfully irreverent, some were very earnest, some involved research,” he said. “There are no guidelines.”

No assignments are involved, but students can earn extra credit.

Sevigny sees the blog as a way reconnect with students.

“I’ve seen kids become more remote with remote learning,” she said. “They turn off the visual and audio (during videoconference classes) and I feel like I’m talking to squares with kids’ names on them.”

In the blog, her free-verse poem begins darkly:

“Wash your hands until they bleed
Stay 6 feet away
Shelter in place
Sneer at sneezers”


It later turns hopeful.

“I can breathe spring air and welcome the warmth of the sun and the songs of birds.”

She wanted to reach kids who were struggling, she said.

“I wanted to message hope,” she said. “Even in our darkest hour we will find a way to get through this together.”

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